Improving Intake for Personal Injury Lawyers

woman on intake call in office

Intake will always be one of the most challenging aspects of running a law firm. Unfortunately, that’s just the way it is. Poor leads, ineffective vetting calls, and acceptance of unsuitable clients are intake issues I’ve experienced over the years at my law firm, and I’ve heard the same from other personal injury attorneys. Here are a few things I’ve noticed that can improve intake for law firms.

1. Educate Your Intake Specialists

Poor intake calls are a common source of negative reviews for personal injury firms. I think one of the reasons why is the mindset of the firm and the person doing intake.

Too many people are short with potential clients and feel like they’re wasting the law firm’s time if there is not a viable case the firm will accept. This can lead to staff coming across as rude, abrupt, and not concerned with the caller.

A better way to think of each potential client is to view them as an opportunity to help somebody with a problem. Maybe they have a viable case and it isn’t something you handle. If so, give them a referral to somebody who can help them. This not only helps the potential client but it also helps you build goodwill with referral sources.

Or maybe it just isn’t a viable case at all. But at least you, or somebody else within your firm, can give them closure and help them have some answers. This is particularly true in medical malpractice cases.

If you view yourself as a problem solver and view each call as the opportunity to find a solution for the other person, you will not only avoid those negative reviews but you’ll actually generate some positive ones in the process.

2. Know the Red Flags

Every found yourself dealing with a problematic client in a personal injury case and wonder how you could have avoided it?

When you have a problem client or case, it’s best to ask yourself what information you knew at the time you agreed to accept the case that should have been a red flag. You can’t just look at the facts you later discovered after you accepted the case or else you’ll never be able to avoid the mistakes again.

Here are three red flags at intake that I’ve found can indicate a problem client.

🚩 They try to negotiate your fee. These clients view your services as a commodity, they are likely shopping their case around, and they’re likely going to hire whatever firm gives them the best deal. Though this isn’t always the case, these clients generally don’t have an appreciation for the value of the lawyer’s services and simply view the lawyer as taking money from them without really deserving it.

🚩 Their main concern is how much money they are going to get. It’s natural for people to be curious about what their case may be worth. That’s not what I’m talking about here. I’m talking about the clients who repeatedly ask for an estimate in an initial consultation, despite your constant statements that you cannot tell them what their case is worth without having all the facts. These clients may also ask if it is worth it for them to go to the doctor (a huge red flag).

🚩 They are rude to you or your staff. If a new client doesn’t have respect for you or your staff at the outset, that isn’t going to change once you take their case. It will likely only get worse and that client will make your life, and your employees’ lives, miserable.

3. Set a Standard for How Your Firm Sees New Clients

There are two types of lawyers.

Lawyer 1 sees their clients as an opportunity to make money. When a new client calls, they see dollar signs and think of how they can make money off of their client or their case. These lawyers exist on the plaintiff and defense side. On the defense side, they may overbill and look for opportunities to make themselves the most money. They won’t find a quick resolution because they want to bill. On the plaintiff’s side, they may look for a quick settlement or at least one with the path of least resistance. They may also nickel and dime their clients with expenses as they seek to monetize every area of overhead in their practice.

Lawyer 2 sees themselves as problem solvers and looks to be of service to their clients. Rather than seeing dollar signs when a new client or case comes in, they focus on the client’s problem and how the lawyer can best serve the client’s interest. On the defense side, these lawyers look for the most efficient resolution to get the best result for the client, even if it means billing less hours. On the plaintiff’s side, this lawyer looks to get the best possible result regardless of how much work is involved. This lawyer does not cut corners and seeks to maximize the client’s result, even if it results in the lawyer having to spend more time and money. This lawyer also doesn’t nickel and dime their clients.

Not only does Lawyer 2 do things the right way, which is reason enough to practice like them, but Lawyer 2 will also have better intake, be happier, more fulfilled, make more money, and generate more client referrals in the long run.

Don’t be like Lawyer 1 and focus only on short-term gains. Be like Lawyer 2 if you really want to improve your intake process.

There’s Always Room for Intake Improvements

Like many aspects of running a law firm, perfecting your intake process takes time and, even then, you’ll never truly get it perfect. Keep seeking to improve the efficiency and quality of your intake process, and you’ll start to see the benefits reflected in the number and kind of clients you take on.

What do you think? What intake roadblocks do you struggle with most? Join the conversation with me on LinkedIn.

About the Author

Darl Champion is an award-winning personal injury lawyer serving the greater Metro Atlanta area. He is passionate about ensuring his clients are fully compensated when they are harmed by someone’s negligence. Learn more about Darl here.